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25 years after Beijing: A new social contract is necessary

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the approval of BPfA, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, by 189 governments. This is still the most progressive document ever created on the rights of girls and women and the battle to achieve gender equality. Now, in 2020, some areas have achieved a degree of success. Trade unions have played an important role in this progress. However, we are also concerned about a current backlash in the movement for women’s rights. Gender equality is still far off.

Women make up the majority of the work force worldwide. But:

  • Fewer than half of working women throughout the world are on payroll/permanent staff
  • Women are usually paid lower wages and often work without job security
  • Women earn, on average, 20% less than men
  • Women are still mainly responsible for unpaid caretaking work
  • Women have fewer rights and less accessibility to social security

This makes it nearly impossible for women to work their way out of poverty. And in nearly every stage of their lives,  women encounter some form of gender discrimination and/or harassment, as well as discrimination based on class, ethnicity, migration status, sexual orientation, and gender identification. 818 million women have suffered intimidation, harassment, and violence.

A new social contract

We need even more than the new Beijing agenda (Beijing +25). Therefore, on International Women’s Day 2020, the international trade union movement is calling for a new social contract, one with more agreements regarding the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals. These global goals for sustainable development should put an end to extreme poverty, inequality, injustice, and climate change. The 193 member states of the UN have established these 17 goals in their 2015-2030 development agenda. Several of these focus on equality and work. The most relevant of these are:

  • Goal 8 about sustainable development and work
  • Goal 5 about gender equality
  • Goal 4 about practical and professional education

Speed up the process

The international trade union organisation, ITUC, is concerned and wants to stress upon the world: If we do not find a way to speed up the process, these goals will not be achieved by 2030. On International Women’s Day, ITUC is calling the world to action in regard to:

  • the right to the freedom to assemble and engage in collective bargaining for all women workers
  • access for all workers, including those in the informal economy, to basic services and social security
  • investment in gender equality and development
  • the elimination of gender related harassment and violence at work
  • support for women in leadership, including more women in leadership roles

For more details and information:

The new Beijing Agenda 25+ 

Publication date 07 03 2020